Just one day being used in a low-leverage situation, Corey Knebel was thrust into the 10th inning of a tie game with the Rockies. To his credit, Knebel breezed through the inning, allowing only a two-out walk to David Dahl. Three of the four batters he faced were left-handed, and Knebel’s recent struggles have occurred disproportionately against right-handed batters. Craig Counsell left Knebel in for the 11th inning, and after retiring leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon, he was set to face two tough righties, DJ LeMahieu and Nolan Arenado. The latter put the Rockies ahead with a solo home run.
The Brewers failed to rally against Seung Hwan Oh in the bottom of the inning, so Knebel was credited with his second loss of the season. Since July 4, Knebel has allowed runs in six of his 13 appearances and a .933 OPS overall during this period. Allowing a home run to Arenado in an otherwise effective two-inning stint is certainly no cause for alarm, but at the same time, it may be enough to motivate Craig Counsell to go with Jeremy Jeffress, Joakim Soria or Josh Hader the next time the Brewers have a save opportunity.
Only two days removed from his 28-pitch meltdown in the series opener, Wade Davis was not brought in for any part of Sunday’s tight contest with the Brewers. It was Adam Ottavino who got the opportunity to shut down the Milwaukee lineup with a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was not an ideal time for Ottavino to snap a string of 14 appearances without an earned run and turn in one of his worst performances of the year, but that’s what he did. He began the inning by allowing a Mike Moustakas home run, and a catcher’s interference call, a double and two wild pitches later, he had allowed the Brewers to even the score and extend the game into extra innings.
A strong performance might have been enough to catapult Ottavino into the closer’s role, given Davis’ recent difficulties, but his failure to protect a three-run lead may have bought the incumbent closer a little more latitude. It may also have given Oh a chance to close some games in the future.
The Astros activated recently-acquired Roberto Osuna on Sunday, as he had completed his 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. The Astros did not need a closer in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, but A.J. Hinch told MLB.com that incumbent Hector Rondon would retain the closer’s role for the time being.
With Anthony Swarzak getting placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation on Sunday, the Mets’ closer situation is wide open once again. Robert Gsellman should see some save opportunities in Swarzak’s absence, though Seth Lugo pitched the top of the ninth inning in a 3-3 tie with the Braves on Sunday. Even though he allowed the Braves to surge ahead on Ronald Acuna’s RBI single, Lugo should still be in the mix for saves and other high-leverage situations.
Lugo was spared a loss when A.J. Minter allowed Devin Mesoraco’s solo homer in the bottom of the ninth. It was only the second home run allowed by Minter this season, and he had not allowed a run in any of his previous seven appearances. Over that seven-inning stretch, Minter had yielded only two singles and a walk.
Quick hits: In recording a save against the Angels on Sunday, Brad Hand now appears even more clearly to be in the driver’s seat of the Indians’ closer situation. The lefty has received three of the team’s last four save opportunities, and he has converted each of them. Still, Cody Allen and possibly Andrew Miller could be called upon for save chances at least occasionally…Aroldis Chapman blew his second save of the season on Sunday night against the Red Sox. Entrusted with a 4-1 lead, Chapman walked three batters before J.D. Martinez knocked in two runs with a line drive single. Then the Red Sox tied the game on Miguel Anjudar’s throwing error. Over his last six appearances, Chapman has thrown only 31.7 percent of his pitches in the strike zone…Kyle Barraclough may no longer be the only reliever with a breakfast-inspired surname to have a late-inning role. Tyler Danish got the final out of the seventh inning and the first two outs of the eighth inning while the White Sox were tied with the Rays, 6-6…Seranthony Dominguez was charged with his second blown save of the season on Sunday, but it came in the seventh inning against the Marlins. He was brought in to face the heart of the Marlins’ order after Aaron Nola had allowed a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich, which narrowed the Phillies’ lead to 3-2. Then Justin Bour tied the game with a solo shot off Dominguez…Greg Holland has agreed to a deal with the Nationals. He was released by the Cardinals last Wednesday…Diego Castillo pitched the final two innings against the White Sox and took the loss on Daniel Palka‘s two-run homer in the top of the ninth. Sergio Romo was likely unavailable, having pitched every day between last Tuesday and Friday…The Twins appear to have a new Trevor in the eighth inning setup role. With a 6-3 lead, Trevor Hildenberger came out for the seventh inning, and he allowed the Royals to cut the lead to 6-5 on Whit Merrifield’s two-run homer. Then after Taylor Rogers got the first two outs of the eighth inning, it was Trevor May who closed out the frame. In doing so, May earned his second hold in three days.
Al Melchior has been writing about Fantasy baseball and sim games since 2000, and his work has appeared at CBSSports.com, BaseballHQ, Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster and FanRagSports. He has also participated in Tout Wars' mixed auction league since 2013. You can follow Al on Twitter @almelchiorbb and find more of his work at almelchior.com.